YOUTH unemployment in the Murray region stands a full 11 per cent above the state average, according to figures from the NSW Parliamentary Research Service.
The figure, 22 per cent, is well above the state average of 10.4 per cent and much higher than the neighbouring Riverina region at 14 per cent.
While noting the massive size of the Murray region, which includes areas as far west at Griffith, NSW Business Chamber regional manager Andrew Cottrill said the region had long been an outlier when it comes to youth unemployment.
He said there were a number of factors that had led to the high rate of youth unemployment, notably a reluctance by the state government to invest in infrastructure near the border combined with the broad geographic spread and diverse economies within the Murray region.
The biggest area of concern for Mr Cottrill though, was that the education sector, industry and employment programs were not working together effectively enough to tackle the growing problem.
“We’re concerned there are issues that go beyond those other factors,” he said.
“The biggest issue is that we believe the jobactive network’s integration with schools, industry and employment agencies is insufficient.
“We don’t believe job agencies are working sufficiently well with schools to give students adequate careers advice, early enough.”
Mr Cottrill said there were programs beginning later this year designed to tackle the alarmingly high figure, but most of them were focused on the short term.
Improvements to tertiary education options to improve outcomes for young people who chose not to go to university were also important.
“Given we’ve had this poor trend of high youth unemployment for a long time now, we need to have specific focus on long-term outcomes,” he said.
“We think the primary issue is students not getting career advice on the trends in career opportunities.
“There needs to be improvements to TAFE, spending cuts in VET are very damaging to employment opportunities.”
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